They teach that right up until the last minute, the Passion of our Lord seemed like a victory for hell. This is a pretty ancient idea.
When we got to the XIVth Station (Our Lord is laid in the Sepulchre), the crowd of pro-abortion protestors let out a cacophonous howl, jeering and cheering and banging their pots and pans. Things like this happened a few times last night. Did they know the significance of when they were cheering? I doubt it, those poor souls were too busy shrieking at us to be able to hear what we were doing and where we were. It would be a stretch to say that they were possessed, but if they were an orchestra, then the devil was the conductor!
Bishop Hopes at the Latin Mass Society Requiem 2011
Last night, a group from Juventutem London met with a group from Juventutem Bristol and the Bristol University Students for Life to hear Holy Mass before going over to the 40 Days for Life Vigil, in support of Bishop Alan Hopes. We met at the London Oratory for a private Mass offered by a priest - poor Father was a bit nonplussed by the increased size of his congregation. There weren't enough seats, so we were standing at the back like Irishmen at a Mass Rock.
After Mass we headed over to Tottenham Court Road for the vigil. When we got there, the Bishop was leading the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. When we knelt to offer the decade for the Crucifixion and death of Our Lord, the protestors started chanting 'Sit down if you hate women'.* Some of the times we kneeled, they would really roar!
Picture credited to HarpyMarx
I'd been thinking all week that it would be a visceral experience of what our Lord experienced on Good Friday, with the crowd baying for his death. I was shocked though, because the din was more hellish than human.
I was there and as such, I can confirm that the crowd extended further back quite significantly, and the left wing of the Catholic body has been cut out of the photo. There were loads of us.
There were many more Catholics than there were protestors. MANY more. One of our members reckoned there were 400 of us and maybe 150 or so of them. See Dr Shaw's blog. So much for the accuracy of facebook (it said 670 pro-abortioners were coming, and 130 pro-lifers). Another bizarre idea is that the pro-life side was predominantly white old men. As you can see from the pictures below, we were representing a cross-section of society - both genders, all races, all ages. It was a rather prosaic collection of people - you could have placed them all in Tesco, and I wouldn't have known that they were pro-life, or Catholics.
The reporting in the Guardian and Associated Press has been, frankly, bizarre. I haven't seen many articles elsewhere. My theory for that is that the pro-abortion side made such a disgrace of themselves, and were so patently not outnumbering the cross section of normal people that we represented, that it would be a political gaffe to report it. They would be forced to lie, or to admit that more people turned out for 40 Days for Life.
Mgr John Armitage (who heard Confessions for us in November) made the great point that yesterday demonstrated clearly the power of Episcopal leadership in the Church, and that the social radicals recognised that better than Catholics often do. When bishops boldly preach the Gospel they are not mere men, but giants. A bishop is an immense power of grace, and has a mysterious conformity to our Lord marked on their soul, intrinsic to who he is, and carried wherever he goes. Pray for the bishops that events such as light night will become commonplace and that the laity will continue to respond to their brave leadership. May God bless them.
As you may have seen elsewhere on this blog, Bishop Alan Hopes is a great friend of Juventutem London, and is coming to offer a Pontifical High Mass for us on June 29th for Ss Peter and Paul. Why not drop him an email offering him your thanks for his principled stand, and to tell him that you are looking forward to seeing him with us in June?
Anyway, some lessons learnt (or earlier truths further confirmed):
- Episcopal leadership is extremely powerful: inspiring for Catholics; terrifying for the enemies of the Church and of the natural law;
- The devil loathes our Lady and her Holy Rosary;
- The devil loathes Catholics kneeling in prayer (think about that next time you receive Holy Communion);
- Hell is even more violent, noisy and bitter than last night;
- There are many poor souls who in the pro-abortion crowd who think they are standing for what is right and just - pray for them;
- There are many other poor souls amongst those protestors who have had abortions, who are unable to see reason because of the implications it would have on them and their actions - pray for them.
*'That's alright, just as well,' I thought. 'We're not sitting, we're kneeling - phew!'